Two men die after fall from 27 storeys

DUBAI // Two construction workers died this week after falling from the 27th floor of a building next to the Burj Khalifa.

The Indian men, ages 24 and 27, were installing glass at about 4.30pm on Tuesday when their cradle encountered a "mechanical error", said an official from the project site who declined to be named.

Another anonymous source said the side winch of the cradle had failed, and a statement issued by Dubai Police said the men's cradle had "lost balance".

The men were wearing safety harnesses and hard hats when they fell, according to a photograph of the accident scene provided by police. It was not clear whether the harnesses failed or were not correctly attached to secondary cables. Police say they are investigating the incident.

Both workers died on impact, and their families have been informed, the project official said.

In a statement released yesterday, Emaar said: "We regret to report the death of two employees of a private company. We extend our sincere condolences to their families."

The site, known as Plots 12 and 13 of the Burj Dubai Development, is run by Samsung-Baytur JV. It features two glass-panelled towers that are 30-plus storeys high, and taper at the top. It is centrally located in the Emaar Downtown area, on Emaar Boulevard opposite the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa.

Construction of the building started in 2007 and is set to finish this month, according to a sign posted at the site.

According to Baytur, 866 workers have been employed in the construction of the mixed-use commercial tower. Most are from South Asia.

Until Tuesday, the site maintained a relatively clean safety record - some workers had sustained minor injuries, like cuts or small particles stuck in the eye, said a Samsung-Baytur JV employee involved in the project.

Now that the project is winding down, about 12 employees a day visit the on-site nurse, who works 12 hours a day and is on call at night.

Almost all the glass facades of both buildings have been installed, although a few panels are yet to be set in place at the top of the second tower, where metal scaffolding with wooden slats juts out from the building. Work on the building where the accident took place resumed soon afterward, according to a source at the site.

Yesterday afternoon, workers could only be seen on the ground floor, carting materials inside. They wore hard hats, and some wore harnesses.

The deputy manager of the project said he was not authorised to comment. Others involved in construction at the site could not be reached.

In a separate cradle accident in Sharjah five months ago, four workers died after falling six storeys outside the Ansar Mall.

The workers had been employed by Al Reyami Signs and Advertising to erect a banner outside the mall. It was unclear if those workers were wearing safety harnesses at the time. Three of the men were killed on impact, while a fourth died later that day at Kuwaiti Hospital.

Imad Jamal, the vice chairman of the Higher Technical Committee for the UAE Contractors Association, which promotes safety on construction sites, said at the time of the Sharjah incident, many construction firms could have improved their safety standards.

Brian Florance, the operations manager of Malt Techniques, which installs and manages cradles in Dubai, said cradles must be checked for a variety of things: "There are design criteria, installation criteria and safety regulations for working at heights."

* With additional reporting by Wafa Issa and Eugene Harnan

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